Are you OK? Yes, I believe I am.

That’s a question that I would never again answer flippantly. If I have learned nothing else from the past year and a half it would be that no one can predict what will happen next, and speaking thoughtfully and truthfully has value beyond measure. It has been incredibly hard, even debilitating and life changing for so very many people. It is not easy to find anything good to say about the affect of a worldwide health crises, but despite all of the negative aspects, I must say that I am now being able to identify some positive effects it has had on me.

Knowing that I had to think about all of my actions, all of my words, and all of my intents, made me a more careful and thoughtful person. I may not have taken the time or I may have procrastinated making the changes that I was forced to make. Yes, we had to wear masks to keep from infecting each other with this evil virus. Yes, the restrictions affected our ability to move freely in society as we worked collectively and selflessly to control the spread. It also slowed me down and made me take the time to evaluate myself, my aspirations, my selfishness, and the impact that I have on everyone around me through my opinions and my actions. I also became more aware of these impacts from others.

This time has helped me take my relationship with my sweetheart to a deeper level, and I am heartwarmed and grateful. We have played together and talked together and dreamed together like new lovers. The painting above is just one of dozens I have captured of places from our driving adventures.

My art has also become more important for me. I am painting more, maturing and evolving faster, and becoming better in a way I might not have been able to do if I hadn’t been slowed down drastically. I am painting broad subject matter, and experimenting with color, style, and method. I am always learning and growing now and increasingly optimistic that I will eventually be recognized. The painting below is an oil study I’ll call, “Breakfast”.

Later in the year I will be taking my art history knowledge to a public event (Platteville, Wisconsin) setting up original work at an outdoor art fair (Greenwich Villiage Art Fair in Rockford, Illinois), and showing at an Outlander Convention (Thru the Stones in Davenport, Iowa).

Are you OK? Yes, I believe I am. Am I different? Yes, I believe I am that as well and I am grateful for the good changes I am now undergoing. It’s been a tough year but it’s time to breathe, celebrate life’s riches, and move forward. I am OK and I believe I will just keep getting better.

Influences

No one, especially not an artist, can ever say that they have become who they are without the influence of everything and everyone around them. It is a continual evolution, and I have to say there are times when it’s more and less evident in my life, but it is always rewarding!

You have walked with me here lately and heard me talking about conversations with friends and fellow painters, going for drives, and feeling like I’m going through some growing pains. My life experiences, the people in my life, and the day to day challenges or joys, accumulate. Paintings are literally the tip of the iceberg of what is churning inside. When I am having a growth spurt my life can appear blurry, and as those iceberg tops that reveal some kind of inner movement pop up, they can leave a narrative that looks different and fractured and hard to explain. Let me simplify. It is just life. With visual artists, it just presents as evidentiary images of processing.

As a child I was influenced by illustrators like NC Wyeth and Wesley Dennis. As I grew up and explored the art world I admired artists like Monet and his muted pastels, and Kandinsky with his saturated color and they, too, added to growing influences. As each piece come together over passing years I could feel the collecting bits and could see the shifts and the aggregating. I’ve been admiring my plein-aire friend’s gestural and impressionist style recently, but know that it is his style. I have admired Andrew Wyeth’s loose illustrative work, but that’s his style as well. By admiring other artists I find bits that speak to me in that moment of my growth and it influences me. It is important for me to reach out and explore and play and let those influences fold in with all of the subtlety and nuance of a novice baker folding in new ingredients to the bowl.

Yesterday was an absolutely lovely day. I began the day by painting the cornfield in the studio, and then we went for a ride in the afternoon to fill the car with gas, visit friends, deliver a painting, and take pictures – both on the drive and at our friends house. There was so much inspiration. There will be so many images from yesterday that will emerge on canvas over time. This morning I sat in my studio listening to big band music blare on Pandora, thought about some of the wonderful horses, birds and scenes I had seen yesterday, and thought about how hard it is to photograph animals because they’re always in a blur of movement. One feral rooster seemed to follow us around, making all kinds of noise while we tried to have a conversation in the barns. I couldn’t help but think about an Aunt’s suggestion that I paint chickens and a friend who has done so recently. I had, afterall, painted my brother’s chicken, Porky, last year.

So while Ray was cooking breakfast, I painted. The relaxing day we had, influenced me. I found myself letting my recent conversations with Griffing, Brauer, Rodgers, and James further influence me. My own past watercolor sketches, Kandinsky’s raging color, Lon’s gestural energy and a whole slug of personal history influenced me. My work will continue to evolve, just as I will. For those who are concerned that my work is swinging all over, keep in mind that we are an aggregate of all kind of influences in everything we do and everything we are. It is whether we choose to keep anything, how much we choose to integrate, and if in fact we actively choose to reject that can be attributed to influence. The resulting person we find ourselves is directly influenced by our gift from God, that being, choice.

I encourage you to play some big band music, thank Kandinsky, and enjoy this playful painting – an 11″ x 14″ oil on canvas titled, The Feral Rooster Strut.

On the road to a show.

Loading the pallete and getting ready to hit the road to a working show. I love events like this. I am on my way to a historical trade fair this weekend in Oshkosh, Wisconsin where I will put my art up on display, showing friends and patrons many new works that have been done in the past year. I will have a canvas on the easel that I can be working on and talking with people about. This is business but so enjoyable that it’s a win-win for me. Perhaps I’ll see you there?

The captured moment.

This morning has been so relaxing. It has been enjoyable sitting at my easel painting and thinking about friends on the North Shore of Lake Superior. It’s delightful to me that while painting I can transport myself in my mind to particular moments in time. For those of you, my friends, who were in the encampment at the Grand Portage National Monument in August of 2019, you will recall the evening when the storm blew up quickly resulting in a lovely double rainbow. It’s been rare for me to be able to see both ends of a rainbow in my life, and most assuredly I had never seen the rainbow reflect off water like that, almost creating a circle. Circles are everywhere in our lives from repetitian within our visual spheres to our relationships with people, and are most certainly demonstrated in our paths of life.

Thank you for circling back to see how this painting turned out today, and thank you for walking the circles of my life with me.

Feel free to send me a comment about the work, or that day, or our walk together.

Laying out a painting and enjoying the memories.

undefined Laying out a new painting is truly an exercise of craft – the pleasure of color and canvas and paint. When I work I look at the photographs I took and revisit the time, revisit the place, and think about all of the emotions involved in that moment. I can hear the sounds and smell the smells or feel the excitement of the people around me. These things and more help me add the right extra elements to a painting to make it work.

For those who were present at this time and place last summer you might recognize what I have begun to lay out. I’ll post the finished work so comment then and let me know if I captured the moment as you remember it.

Opportunities continue to arise.

Today I am so pleased to hear that the book I illustrated for author Michelle Minor Smith has come off the press. She is a horsewoman with a passion for God’s creatures and her story is about a racehorse who was no longer earning his keep – considered past his prime. 

I am proud to have illustrated the book and to help her in her efforts to help with racehorse rescue awareness. 

It will soon be available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and a Christian bookstore near you. Michelle will also do book signing events at bookstores and libraries, and I hope perhaps I can join her on occasion.

Time flies!

Oh my, I cannot believe how time has gotten away from me. 

It seems like only last week instead of last month, that I was at Oshkosh, Wisconsin for the Echoes of the Past trade fair. That was a fun weekend -although the weather was certainly against us. We had snow and sleet and awful wind that made it hard to get to the building each day, but it was fun nonetheless, once we were inside. I enjoyed seeing old friends and meeting new friends. I am happy to have been able to go and share my paintings.

The first painting that I’m showing here is actually the painting that I worked on while on site – something I try and do whenever I am invited to bring my artwork to an event. People seem to enjoy watching my process and hearing what I am thinking about while I paint. And I must admit, I really enjoy interacting with the public, too. 

One new friend I met at Oshkosh was a young lady (hello “A”) who had some wonderful pointers about how various parts of the landscape should be done. She was quite familiar with Bob Ross and his painting style and so we talked about how I should paint the trees especially. I added the birch and pine trees on the right side in honor of our conversations. Thanks, “A”. 

The Second painting you see here is one that I started in the fall and kind of dithered with but hadn’t finished. I’ve been doing a lot of wishing for a cabin for my husband and I to retire to someday that I wanted to paint what we thought that cabin might look like.

Originally, the painting depicted a fall scene with fall leaves all over the trees and ground. It was almost garish with the color and I found I didn’t like it at all. In January I  picked it up again and painted out all the colored leaves, added snow, and put it aside again because I was so irritated with it. One final time I went back to the painting and decided to complete it.  I wouldn’t call it a great painting but it was important to finish it and think about all that I learned in the process. Equally important was the need to share challenges, struggles, and degrees of success or failure. 

You see, pride makes an easy trap for me to avoid posting pictures of paintings that I’m not so fond of. Art is so very subjective and that remains true even for the artist for their own work. When I talked to some of the people at the trade fair in February I realized that only showing my best is doing a disservice – it is deceptive. It gives the impression, especially to a young, emerging artist who may be watching me, that I don’t ever do medium work or even fail. It’s important to remember that I keep painting even if I don’t like them all, or if some are much slower to complete, or sometimes just needing to stop because it just keeps getting worse and I can’t fix it. It’s OK to fail with a painting and move on. It is not OK to quit painting.

Another point worth making is that I may not love a painting when I’m done with it because of any number of personal reasons, but it may be exciting for someone else. I think any one who is creative knows that we can be our own worst critics. 

The Third painting that you see here is a larger painting and the most recent, and depicts Spring in the deep woods. It’s depicting that time when Spring rain showers come and go pretty quickly and leave everything slightly damp. I can smell the old leaf clutter from the fall, that musty sweet smell of the Earth bursting with small flowers and the acrid wet scent of rock. All of the trees have the light green shades of 1st leaves …and yet the sun is drowsily warm.

Winter is passing and I have another painting on the easel. I look forward to what it can teach me, where it can take me in my imagination, and what new challenges it can gift me. Enjoy the coming spring and its adventures.

Is it the Holiday Season already!

Gosh, time has flown by so fast!  I am hurriedly wrapping up the end of an academic semester, and I still have boxes of art all over my home place from last weekend’s show. They need to be stowed so that I can decorate for the holidays. Slightly panicked, I’m trying to imagine how fast I can get my living room rearranged, my tree up, and my decorations placed around this Saturday.

I did take a moment yesterday to think about all of the wonderful people I had met at the Outlander Convention last weekend. I learned a lot at that show. Many of those lovely patrons had advice on how to present my work at a multi faceted venue like that was, and others had good advice on the need for a broader scaled pricing model. As a working painter I have tried to have some prints available but have also learned that offering prints of too many original works can devalue the original pieces. For this recent show I had made a few smaller prints that were created specifically as small and affordable works of art (Outlander icon pen and inks), some notecards using an image of one of my larger works (Morning Fog at Craig na Dun), and a small edition of a detail from a larger original (Safe Harbour).

Last night’s conclusion was that I needed to have a new gallery with a unique body of work for gift shopping and not solely investing.

ANNOUNCING:  the newest gallery in the STORE is the “Gift Shop” in your right hand menu bar. In this new gallery will be those unique, handcrafted, or small works and prints, usually under $100. It will be those items we’re looking for as a quick gift for someone else or a treat for yourself. I’m going to be adding some of the other fun things I like to create – craft or utility items such as note cards, jewelry, buttons, or whatever is not a large scale original painting. I have also made a link to the gichlee prints I carried previously and put them in there for your convenience.

As always, your feedback is welcomed and appreciated. If I don’t get back to you before, have a very happy holiday season.

Excited about the new adventure!

There are only a few weeks before I will be enjoying a new adventure, showing my artwork at a convention, Thru the Stones, in Davenport, Iowa. You have seen me painting Outlander inspired scenes (book series by Diana Gabaldon) for some of my studio work this year and this showing is the reason. It is coming up November 30th and I soon will be in the final rush to have everything “just so!”

I will have displayed a great variety of original works done in oil on canvas, and will make available some of my gichlee historical prints, as well. At this event will be a new, limited gichlee edition of a detail of “Safe Harbour”, matted in white (see the photo on the far right). 

I have also created a new series of small pen and ink iconic figures related to the book series (seen in the photo on the near right). Each image is gichlee printed in black and white and finished in a black matte, backed by a certificate of authenticity, and can be purchased individually or as a bundled group of all 5. 

The third photo shows a sample of the printed note cards with an image of one of my paintings, Morning Fog at Craig Na Dun, on the cover.  Blank inside, they give you the opportunity to join those of us historical romantics who still write personal notes and mail them to friends and family. 

All of these new works will be fun new additions to what I have traditionally offered and I plan to continue to have them available … even after the show on the 30th.

I am having so much fun.